My first week at the Illinois Academy of Pediatrics

For my summer internship, I am working at the Illinois Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics (also known as ICAAP) located in West Town, Chicago, IL. ICAAP is a coalition of 2300 pediatricians located throughout the state of Illinois who are jointly committed to improving health outcomes of children throughout the state.

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 7.23.02 PMMy particular initiative is called PROTECT- Promoting Resiliency Of Trauma Exposed Communities Together. Before I get into what the program does, you should consider watching this fantastic Ted Talk by Nadine Burke Harris about the overwhelming scope of childhood trauma, and learn why childhood trauma is being considered one of the largest unaddressed public health concerns to date.

The Early Childhood Development team at ICAAP- a group of three incredible and passionate woman- was awarded a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant for three years, the goal of which is to bring together different initiatives working to reduce the impacts of childhood trauma throughout the state of Illinois, educate important players (such as pediatricians, educators, and faith communities) about the impact of childhood trauma, create a virtual resource center to provide free resources to those who want to become trauma-informed, engage with communities and families who are exposed to trauma, and create policy recommendations and best practices consistent with being trauma informed. (Thats a mouthful- learn more about PROTECT here!)

One of my primary responsibilities will be to deliver speeches about childhood trauma to different audiences throughout Illinois who want to become trauma informed. This two hour presentation, my boss informed me and my fellow intern, will ‘become ours’, and we will ‘own it’. They told us that by the end of the summer, we will become experts in the field of childhood trauma. Here’s a few of the responsibilities that I can remember them bringing up: We will be writing grants, conducting research to aid communities who want to become trauma informed, acting as a coordinator and moderator of different interest groups, presenting about childhood trauma throughout the state, and attending educational Webinars on behalf of ICAAP. These responsibilities, some mundane and some large, will help the understaffed ECD team work more efficiently and collaboratively towards their goal of bringing a trauma-informed lens to the state of Illinois.

These responsibilities align perfectly with my learning goals, just as the staff at ICAAP are looking to do. An academic goal of mine is to learn more about childhood trauma, and understand the impact it has on healthcare and society. Already at the end of week one, I feel confident in my knowledge of childhood trauma. The more I understand about the scope of its impact, the more excited I am about my work. A career goal of mine is to experience first hand how a non-for-profit operates, and what it means to work to reduce healthcare disparities, a buzzword that is constantly thrown around but that I’ve never truly understood. My work is constantly exposing me to new non-for-profits. One of my first assignments was to invite businesses and non-for-profits to our upcoming Autism, Behavioral, and Complex Medical Needs Conference. Through doing so, I came to realize just how extensive a community exists in the subset of developmental delays, and how many different creative approaches there are for mediating disparities in healthcare.  A personal goal of mine is to get a better understanding of what drives change in the healthcare system. So far, I have seen glimpses of the dedication and passion it takes to influence policy makers, and I know that through my continuous work with such a noble organization I will continue to see what drives change.

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My workspace! Notice that the coffee isn’t too far from hand 🙂

Elizabeth Villano ’16

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